Key player departures rocked the Magpies. 20-year-old senior coach Ken Best took the club to a Grand Final loss to Surfers Paradise.

After the sensational previous season, 1967 promised so much for Southport and Gold Coast football, but was to prove disappointing on several fronts. Initial optimism was abundant and new league President, Collingwood/Williamstown great, Ron Todd (Click here to read article), brought publicity and hype. Early in the year it was thought that a reserve grade competition was a possibility, but the withdrawal of Beenleigh and Labrador saw the hasty configuration of new teams, Southport United and Surfers/Broadbeach. Southport United was largely made up of what was to be the Southport reserve grade players linking up with the remnants of theLabrador club. And Surfers-Broadbeach was predominantly a Surfers Paradise reserve grade team.

Southport appointed premiership hero Darrell Hodgetts as senior coach. He and the 1966 premiership coach Terry Larkins were however, soon linked with Palm Beach-Currumbin, in a controversy that rocked Gold Coast football. Rumours abounded of large inducements being offered to the pair. Larkins was eventually cleared, but the Hodgetts saga dragged on till mid June 1968, when he was finally cleared eighteen months later after playing his first and last game for Southport that season against Palm Beach-Currumbin.

A twenty-year-old Ken Best was thrust into the coaching position and was to do a tremendous job during the year steering the club through the controversy to a Grand Final loss to Surfers Paradise. A four-point victory over Palm Beach – Currumbin in the Preliminary Final was sweet revenge for the skullduggery of the preseason (Click here to read article) Surfers Paradise was to take out the premiership defeating the Magpies by six goals (Click here to read article).

A Gold Coast team with Southport representatives Best, Manuel, Rowe, Eldridge and Murrell convincingly beat a Brisbane reserve grade representative team mid season by ten goals.

The season was unfortunately marred by administrative mix-ups by the league resulting in forfeits and gaps in the scheduling of matches. The Surfers/Broadbeach team did not make it through the season and Southport United often struggled to field a team. The publicity of the code dwindled as the year progressed. Long time GCAFL Secretary, George Stephen summed up the season in this way.

This has been a very trying year for the Executive of this league, and particularly to our new President, Mr. Ron Todd, who has become a permanent resident on the Gold Coast just prior to his election to this important office, as Australian Football is suffering from growing pains here on the Coast and its operation is totally different to what he has been accustomed to in Victoria.

(QAFL Annual Report 1967, p.37.)

Southport commenced a strong and fruitful relationship with the Portland ( Victoria) club with the arrival of 1967 Best and Fairest winner Ian Eldridge and teammate Ross Murrell. “The Portland Boys” also included Terry Lane, Kevin Male, Dale Stutsberry and Don Millard. Ken Best, despite the burden of coaching the side at such a young age, was to have a stellar season sparking the first interest from VFL clubs in Gold Coast talent. Best and Murrell finished third and fourth respectively in the league medal. The experienced John Fildes, after initial approaches from Surfers Paradise, joined the Magpies in 1967. With over two hundred senior games in various Melbourne leagues he was a handy acquisition for a very young Southport outfit. He coached the club in 1968 and went onto assist with the rebuilding of Labrador in 1969 and the establishment of Broadbeach in the early 1970’s.

The strong administration of the club was demonstrated by the candidature of both the President (Nev Magin) and Vice President (Bill Rickhard) for local government that year (Click here to read article). Positive relationships with strong local politicians were a great strength of the Southport AFC and the GCAFL (Click here to see an example).

Nev Magin, in his season summary in the GCAFL Annual Report was to have these far-sighted words to say about the future of Gold Coast football.

It is hoped that next year will see a Gold Coast team playing in the Brisbane competition, as this will have two major benefits.

  1. It will give an incentive to local players and improve their standards;
  2. Players playing in the Brisbane competition will improve their football no end.

(Gold Coast Australian Football League Annual Report – 1967, p.7)

(Click here to read full report) 

(Click here for photo of Mayor Bruce Small, Nev Magin and Ken Best at the 1967 awards night).

Leo Busch also became more involved and continued to coach the under 13s. Ken McDonald was once again at the helm of the under 16s with Carl Tasker in the background. McDonald also played a mentoring role to young senior coach Best. Southport began to gain a reputation as a quality family club that was cohesive and fun to be at. The 1967 Best and Fairest function was a highlight (Click here to see photo).

Training at Owen Park was extended during the middle of winter by the placement of two large portable floodlights in the gutter of the roof of the change rooms before each session.

The Show Society “Green Tin Shed” at Owen Park became the Magpie’s first “clubhouse” with 44 gallon drums surrounded by players and supporters burning well into Sunday nights during that winter. Then it was home at 11pm to watch the ABC and the VFL match of the day on “The Winners” which commenced on local television around that time.

The club travelled to Lismore during the season to play a promotional match against a local team. This effort was to lead to the entry of Lismore into the competition in 1968.

Other articles/photos:

(1967 team photo)

(Award winners 1967)

(1967 Second Semi Final)

1967 Match Results

Date  Venue Home Away Southport Goalkickers and Best Players
23/04/1967 Owen Park Southport 17.17.119 Surfers 8.10.58 (Brown 3, K.Best 3, Murrell 3, Manuel 3, Blake 2, R.Best, Gibbon, Burns)
Rep game 15/05/1967 Salk Oval Gold Coast 18.19.127 Brisbane (reserves) 11.5.71 (Best: Best, Anthony, Murrell)
(Franks 5, Best 3, Garton 3, Anthony 3, Murrell 2, Walsh 2)
4/06/1967 Isle of Capri Surfers 7.10.52 Southport 5.16.46
18/06/1967 Salk Oval PBC 7.7.49 Southport 5.15.45
Owen Park Southport United 7.7.49 Coolangatta 6.21.57
9/07/1967 Salk Oval PBC 10.12.72 Southport United 9.5.59
23/07/1967 Owen Park Southport 19.18.142 PBC 6.4.40 (Best: Rowe, K.Best, Stutchbury, Elrdridge, Murrell, Martin)
(K.Best 4, Winchester 4, Gibbons 3, Murrell 2, R.Manuel 2, C.Manuel, Martin, Blake, Burns)
6/08/1967 Owen Park Southport 24.27.171 Coolangatta 4.12.36 (Best; K.Best, Gibbons, Rowe, Eldridge, C.Manuel, Winchester, Burns)
(Winchester 4, C.Manuel 4, Best 3, Burns 3, Gibbons 2, Monks 2, R.Manuel, O’Rourke)
First Semi 20/08/1967 Owen Park PBC 17.17.119 Coolangatta 14.14.98
Second Semi 28/08/1966 Salk Oval Surfers 17.11.113 Southport 11.9.75 (Best: Elrdridge, Rowe, K.Best, Murrell, Monks)
(Best 2, Winchester 2, Burns 2, Fildes, Murrell, Monks, Blake, Martin)
Prelim 3/09/1967 Owen Park Southport 11.6.72 PBC 10.8.68 (Best: Murrell, Rowe, Sharp, K.Best, R.Best)
(Murrell 4, Jones 2, O’Rourke 2, Burns, K.Best)
Grand Final 10/09/1967 Salk Oval Surfers 13.19.97 Southport 8.10.58
Under 16 Sufers 3.2.20 Southport 2.0.12
Under 13 Surfers 6.13.49 Southport 6.9.39